Play Pong With a Few Hundred of Your Closest Friends

Danny NewmanDanny Newman and Joe Mease were asked by the City of Denver to develop an interactive project for Create Denver, a week-long program encouraging the growth of the creative sector.  They decided on Pong, because it has a very low learning curve, and a very large number of people could play at the same time. They created Mile High Pong, which was projected on the side of the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and played by nearly a thousand people. Participants called the toll-free Twilio number assigned to their team and pressed 2 or 8 to move their team’s paddle up and down. The result: a good time had by all! Since then, the event has been replicated on a much smaller scale in several indoor events around Denver and Boulder. We checked in with Danny to learn more about his development process:

What tools did you use to build Mile High Pong?

I built the initial backend in Node.js because I wanted to learn Node, but running into time contraints, whipped out a PHP version at the last minute. The user facing interface was created in Flash by my buddy Joe Mease. Obviously our dial in interface was built using Twilio. I was able to very quickly use Twilio to set up the TwiML to gather the user inputs.

Where was it first played? How did it go?

The very first test was at a local coffee shop, right after I finished coding it where we had just 9 people playing. The next time it was played was when it was projected on the side of the building and played by over 800 people. Thankfully everything worked great, but I really had no idea if everything was going to run smoothly.

Any advice for new Twilio developers?

Hmm…this is a tough one. Twilio provides such great documentation and support that makes it so easy to jump in and start playing. I guess I could remind new developers that the Twilio solution is probably easier than you are thinking, and there is usually amazing TwiML code that already does what you want :)

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Danny! You can check out a video of Mile High Pong here or Tweet Danny some gamer praise: @dannynewman.